Born, raised and educated in New England, David Chokachi holds a degree in Political Science. He became best known for his role in the TV series Baywatch. Awarded Environmentalist of the Year by Surfrider Foundation, he also is actively involved with Waterkeeper Alliance, Unicef and others. As an avid surfer and stand up paddler, David continues to raise coastal awareness amongst friends, family and the public.
Q. As a surfer yourself you also spend a lot of time in the ocean, can you explain to us why you have spent so much of your time dedicated to helping the ocean and our rivers, and what the ocean means to you?
A. I have been fortunate enough to have spent most of my life, on or near the ocean. Growing up in a house where my mom was an avid sailor and loves the beach and ocean, and my dad loved to fish, go clamming, and was equally passionate about the water. They passed those traditions on to me and my two siblings. As a kid, when we were at the beach, my mom would look for me and I would constantly be underwater, exploring. I started sailing and racing sailboats at a very young age and went to the Junior Nationals three times, once for windsurfing, and twice in a class of boat called the 420. I became head sailing instructor at The Plymouth Yacht Club and sailed to Bermuda and back from Massachusetts, which was an event that really left a mark on me. After moving to the West Coast, I went to work on two television series that revolved around the ocean; Baywatch and Beyond The Break. One shot in Los Angeles and the other in Hawaii. I have always been drawn, in a very powerful way to the ocean. In a sense, I am most comfortable there. When I’m sailing, surfing, scuba diving, I have this sense of being where I am supposed to be. This sense of belonging. That does not happen that often to me. The amount of joy I get from the ocean is something I want to be able to pass on to future generations, the way my parents passed it on to me. The only way this will be possible is if we encourage people to respect and protect these valuable resources.
Being a working actor who was lucky enough to be on a couple hit TV shows, I realize one of the greatest perks of my job is to have a voice and to be able to have a positive influence on people. I started to support ocean and water-based charities like Surfrider and Oceana out of personal interest, but it was also clear that people paid attention and that this brought more awareness to these causes. It was a chance to give something back to the ocean, that has given so much to me. Water Keeper Alliance is equally as important, because these guys (Bobby Kennedy Jr, and the rest) are going after the people and companies who dump and pollute our rivers and waterways. Not only is that very dangerous to the habitat in and around these waters, but we all know, most rivers eventually flow to an ocean. So whatever goes into the rivers, ultimately will affect the oceans. The two are directly related, and both are worthy of everything we can do to protect them.
Q. Can you explain what the most important ocean problem is to you, and tell us what people can do to try to help alleviate the problem?
A. I think one of the most important problems is that we have this feeling that the ocean is infinite, in its supply of resources, and its ability to recover from damages that we, as human beings, do to it. That could not be more false. I surf all the time, and I see first hand the effects of people throwing trash out the windows of theirs cars, not cleaning up after themselves when they go to the beach, dumping things into sewer drains miles and miles inland. It all ends up in the ocean. We have to be smarter than this. The lack of understanding about how each one of us and our actions has an impact on the oceans is just mind blowing. The ocean’s resources and its ability to recover is FINITE. We can, and I mean everyone, do our part. Everything from not littering, to picking up a piece of trash at the beach or at the park, that is where people can start. Just by educating themselves a little bit, and understanding the impact. People can also get involved with organizations like Surfrider Foundation, Oceana, Water Keeper Alliance. It’s important for people to understand that each individual really can make a difference. I think a big problem with environmental issues is that people are overwhelmed, and they don’t feel like alone they can have an impact. This is the very reason why it’s so important to get people involved in ocean-related charities.
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